Best way to load 2 Canoe's

I am looking to find a way to haul my 2 canoes on my Jeep Grand Cherokee(WJ)2000 model. I can easliy fit one, but 2 is tricky.

one canoe is 15ft one is 16ft. both have a beam of 36".

I wan to use the factory rack… can I make a tower out of plumbing supplies and mount them sideway’s? is that ok to do with a canoe? I will be traveling on the interstate with them like this as well.

Thanks for all of the help


They both should be gunwales-down
I’ve traveled with one canoe canted up onto the hull of the other, but you are far better off with both being flat on their gunwales. If you don’t want to buy anything, I’d devise a way to attach a pair of 2x4s cross-wise on your factory rack. You could do this with U-bolts, or custom-build your own connection hardware that is more elaborate. If the 2x4s rest firmly on the lengthwise rails, or better yet, on the four anchor corners of the factory rack and can’t slip out of place, you are good to go. You could attach some small wood blocks on the tops of the 2x4s as gunwale blocks to keep the canoes from sliding too. A little padding on the tops of the 2x4s would also be a nice touch.

Chances are, you can build a very sturdy rack by this method for about 5 bucks.

I think I am following you…
But just to be clear you are saying to extend my existing rack with 2x4’s attached so that both boats fit Gunwales down…?


This is correct.

– Last Updated: Apr-19-07 11:33 PM EST –

The boats will be much easier to anchor securely in that position, and they won't make scuff marks on each other either.

I've seen this type of rack on a number of different cars. I've never looked closely at the attachement. One concern I'd have is that a U-bolt wrapped around a plastic side rail or corner anchor might crack if you make it too tight. If that looks like a potential problem, I'd tighten the U-bolts "just snug", and then double-nut them to keep them from loosening (just in case this needs explaining, "double nutting" means once you put the first nut on to the desired tightness, you screw on a second nut right on top of it and twist it on good and tight. You will need two wrenches to do this, one to tighten the second nut, and another to hold the first nut stationary so it doesn't turn and make the U-bolt tighter). A little padding around the spot that the U-bolt attaches to might be a good idea too, maybe something like a piece of garden hose or multiple wraps of duct tape.

ok,…does anyone have pics?
Could I see a few pics of this setup… I am off of work tomorrow and would like to see if I can’t get this built. I can’t seem to find a website that has anything in the way of plans


The U-bolts can also be cushioned with
something…not soft though. U-bolts make a strong connection and, if at the corners of the factory rails, shouldn’t cause cracking.

canoe transport
Go down to your local outfitter and purchase either Thule or Yakima towers appropriate to your suv, 2 78-80 inch crossbars, two sets of 4 each gunwale brackets and 4 12 or 15 foot long cam buckle straps.

This is expensive but it works wonderfully.

For front ties, cut the excess off two of the cam buckle straps and loop it around the radiator frame cross bar.

Explaination and pics at placidboatworks web site under transport.

Tie down
Whatever you do, be sure to tie down the canoes to your front and rear bumper for safety.


2X4s to existing roof rack
You could simply attach the 2X4s to your roof rack with zip-ties. I’d use several to each cross-bar. When you’re done with this set-up just cut off the zip-ties.

That being said I’d treat this sort of set-up as a very temporary way to haul two canoes, not a long term solution. As Charlie suggested investing in some Thule or Yakima type towers and cross-bars is money well spent. BTW, Yakima makes very nice cam straps that have soft rubber surrounds on the buckle instead of pads behind the buckle – very nice but a bit pricey at about $20 per pair.

I did the 2 X 4…
rack additions to a 54" Thule clamp on ,non changeable crossbar bar set up. They are held on by 2, 1 1/2" U bolts with nuts recessed in the wood to provide smooth surface. Painted then black,and added wood block stops for gunnel stops. I wouldn’t try adding them to the factory rack crossbar,as most all manufacturers crossbars are slightly arched,and wouldn’t lie flat. Best suggestion,buy a rack system with long bars,would be the safest,and most secure for the weight of 2 canoes.And for God’s sake use bow & stern lines. To many here don’t,but should. Don’t want to see you loosing boats,or hurting someone by a flying canoe/s. Here is a picture of my set up. Doesn’t really show much,but underneath is a 54" rack extended to 72". Good Luck.

Happy Paddling billinpa

long cross bars
Thr problem with extending a rack, either with wood or a longer factory crossbar, is that it extends about a foot on either side of the vehicle and is just the right heigt for a nasty head bump. I have done this, and there was no problem with the boats or with clearance in traffic, but you will definitely want to pad the bar ends and make them extra visible with flags or spray paint.

Or be careful.

Two canoes, different lengths, different weights … each extending more than one foot beyond the factory roof rack mounting … attached to gerry-rigged 2X4’s … going at interstate speeds … being passed by trucks going at faster than interstate speeds.

What is the levering effect of that load on the factory roof rack?

I hope you will share with us your exact route and the times you will be on the road.

Aren’t you funny… I am posting for options for “SAFE” travel. not for comic relief. just post you don’t think it is a good idea. lol

When I use to WW kayak we used Guttermounts with wood rails on my Mazada 323 with no troubles at all… and it extended well over the sides and we would have 3-4 boats on top…

I like the concept of the wood rack, but the pic posted earlier of that rack system is perfect for me.


It won’t be going anywhere
The only way this system will fail is if the factory roof-rack anchors pull loose from the roof. Any Thule or Yakima system is going to attach to those SAME factory roof-rack anchors, unless you get the kind that grip the edges of door inlets, but nobody uses that kind if they already have a factory roof rack. The Thule or Yakima setup will look prettier, but it won’t be attached to the car any better. Give the guy a break. This will work just fine.

Jeep Roof Racks

– Last Updated: Apr-20-07 10:44 AM EST –

While I was driving today, I looked at the factory roof rack of every Jeep Cherokee that went by. None of the racks had side rails, but they did have nice corner anchors with a slot through them which would accept a U-bolt if a 2x4 lay across the top. The factory cross bars were arched, so the 2x4 would have to sit adjacent to that cross bar, not on top of it. Based on quick looks at the Jeeps going by, it looks like attaching cross bars made from 2x4s should be possible.

The slot in the existing rack anchors is long enough that each 2x4 attachment could be made using a pair of U-bolts, rather than just one, to spread out the stress on the top section of the factory rack anchor over a couple of inches (this won't affect how the rack carries the weight, but it will spread out any lifting force instead of it being concentrated at one point).

ok, that is kind of what I figured
on the rack setup. I figured I need about a 72-78" cross bar to get the width I need.

Where should I place the factory cross rails?

here is a link to a rack setup that is a nicer version of the wood and 2x4 system.


Factory Racks
For what the dealers get for a factory roof rack, the buyer could mount secure brackets thru the roof, and have a strong flexible Yakima or Thule system with lots of accessories.

The width of every factory rack system forces adaptation and secondary bars or towers to get the necessary width and the strength of the system is limited by the strength of the factory rack components.

Yakima does have a nice Control Tower + Landing Pad system that mounts a landing pad in the factory channels where the cross bars mount on racks without side rails. And the Landing Pads or older Top Loader Brackets can be mounted directly to the roof if you aren’t worried about making holes in your roof. Not as inexpensive as the U-bolt and 2x4 system, but more flexible and stronger than relying on the factory rack.


That is…
the system that replaced my Thule version. They clamp anywhere along the factory side rails. Mine do the same but the bar end caps are the clamp knobs to tighten the rack,and are an internal part of the square tubing,and clamp . Clamp them on the side rails as far apart as possible. In the picture of my RAV 4 I can get 42" of spread between the Thule clamp on crossbars.Yours may be greater,or less,but 30" is the Thule reccommended minimum spread.

Happy Paddling billinpa